Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Postcard from the Edge

One of my favorite possessions is a “Giant Post Card“ from Big Bear Lake, California - June 1958. It was sent by my Dad to his mother in law, my maternal grandmother: “Mrs. Robert DeLozier, 1020 Pine Street, Chelsea, Oklahoma“. It cost 3 cents to send and the stamp still sticks. The color postcard photo by George E. Watson states, “This picturesque lake high in the San Bernardino Mountains (El. 6,750) is an ideal vacation spot and a fisherman’s paradise. The lake, eight miles long and in some place places over a mile wide, is plentifully stocked with trout, bluegill and other varieties of fish.” As a long time Alaskan of 33 years this fishing comment is a bit of a joke, but for a person in the lower 48, probably true.

My Dad wrote, “Dear Mother DeLozier, Mary and I have been camping out in the mountains. Mary is on vacation now and she I are planning on going back for the weekend on the 4th. Our address at present is 12624 Willowbrook Ave., Willowbrook, Calif. Bobbie (my Mom) and Mathew (my brother) did not go with us as Ruth (my sister Angie) was teething. Mary passed (3rd grade) and her report had seven superior marks and her teacher said she was an excellent student. Bob Phillips and Mary”.

After completing first and second grades living with my grandparents in Oklahoma my parents popped in one very sad day in 1957 to take me back to their wandering lifestyle in Southern Cali as it is now called. We lived in a multitude of poverty stricken places and I wonder what teacher Dad was referring to in the postcard. School was always my sanctuary. I estimated once that I changed schools 3 to 4 times a year between 3rd and 6th grade from California to Missouri. My parents were true bohemian gypsy wantabes

Now back to the postcard. Is that really my Dad calling my Okie Grandma, “Mother DeLozier“? It sounds so formal and upstate New Yorky. Is it really 53 years since I got my first bad sunburn at Big Bear Lake camping with my Dad? And then goggling the old address of Willowbrook I discover it is as bad as I remember. The area is part of Compton and Watts where the LA race riots started in the mid 1960s and today is frequently in the top 20 highest crime rates in the U.S. It was where someone tried to steal my sister Ruth (Angie) out of her bassinet from an open window when she was an infant. My Aussie/Irish teenage neighbors were greatly impressed recently to actually meet someone who had lived there. They are Gangster/Rap music followers and the area has a plethora of musicians of that persuasion. It is a great place to be from and only 80 miles to go camping at Big Bear.

We did go camping again with the whole crew. I have a copy of a photo of my brother Matt, Ruth Angie and I on an outing, probably Labor Day 1958 at Crestview in the San Bernardino Mountains. It was always great to escape LA to camp out even then.

Mary, Ruth Angela & Matt "Phillips"  on a camping trip in the San Bernadino Mountains, Ca. Sept. 1958

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